Monday’s seminar was amazing. Sometimes we get to think that theology is just all theory and removed from everyday life. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve been thinking about some of the comments made by Robert Pyne (and others). Dr. Pyne is professor of theological studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. For years, Dr.Pyne taught the complementarian viewpoint endorsed by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. This view is essentially that men and women are equal but different. This is the view that says that men should be in leadership positions in the church, and women, although equal, should not be. Teaching this view for twelve years, and reviewing all the literature that comes out, means that you get to know where the arguments for this position are strong, and where they are weak. Dr. Pyne began to realize that some of the evidence for this position was, in his words, like one of those plastic adhesive hooks that you hang on your bathroom door. They are fine for holding small items, like towels. When you hang something heavy on the hooks, like a bathrobe, they come crashing down to the ground. These little hooks can’t handle the weight. Is there evidence for the complementarian view? Absolutely. Are the hooks strong enough to justify half the body of Christ being excluded from leadership? According to Dr. Pyne, they aren’t. The arguments can’t hold that type of weight. A parallel to this issue is slavery. Is there Scriptural support for slavery? According to William E. Hull, pro-slavery advocates had more biblical support and evidence than abolitionists. Again, the hooks weren’t strong enough, and today we are shocked at how those in favor of slavery could use the Bible that way. Yet we (the church) were, for the most part, on the wrong side of the slavery issue. Dr. Pyne left us with these questions about drawing lines in the sand on issues like gender and leadership:
If you are unsure whether a practice (e.g. head covering) is commanded, should you demand it? If you are unsure whether a practice is forbidden (e.g. women teaching), should you forbid it? What do you believe you can demand (or forbid) with confidence?
“If you are going to forbid half the body of Christ,” he said, “you’d better have a pretty strong hook.” It’s not that the hooks on the other side are necessarily stronger. In fact, some egalitarians argue poorly. There are enough good hooks, though, at least in my view, that seem to be able to hold the weight of grace. I realize that these will be fighting words to some of my readers. What I appreciated most about the other day is that we could discuss the issues honestly without getting too riled. No doubt some of the other speakers appealed more to others. If you’re interested, you may want to think about ordering the tapes directly from Heritage. Christians for Biblical Equality also has some good material. I think I’ll be ordering a new book (Discovering Biblical Equality) as well.